Monday, September 24, 2012

Fanatic Kitchen is Kitchen Fantastic!

Fanatic Kitchen is a kitchen studio in Trinidad where one can have an elegant dining experience with friends while being pampered by a personal chef.

You have the option to cook right along with the chef who will guide you and give handy tips or you simply chat and sip your wine while your meal is prepared.

Our chef for the evening was the enigmatic Jason Peru who was assisted by Ridge Juman.

I think they were both a little surprised to find themselves under the intense scrutiny of a photography group. However both gentlemen handled the pressure of having cameras thrust in their faces and their food  like seasoned professionals.

Of the entire meal, I think it was the appetizer which made the biggest impression with everyone who attended.  When chef Peru described this quiche dish topped with banana rum chutney, I am fairly certain that I was not the only one wondering if he'd been hitting the bottle of rum before our arrival. The flavour combination did not sound very appetizing.

Gamely we all  smiled and nodded politely.  One guy muttered sotto voce that he hated raisins.  Another person shared that she disliked bananas. Out of earshot of the chef we all expressed our doubts. Popular opinion was that banana chutney, which is essentially a sweet jam-like preserve had no business being served over savoury eggs and cheese. Gah!

Two helpings later, (thanks Ridge for sneaking me that second helping :-) Oh my damn! Eggs and jam are da bomb! Raisin hatin' guy now loves raisins. The person who expressed reservations about bananas is converted and we all want the recipe.

Chef inspired meals are not something that appear on my table at home, ever. In truth such displays of haute cuisine are out of place on my homework, keys, and various newspaper ridden dining table. When I cook the television is on - its loud. The kids are on - they are louder. My goal at meal time is usually to get everything squared away as quickly as possible.

There is fine dining and then there is my life; a place where there is no sous chef to make pastry dough from scratch or to roll out and fill individual tartlettes for the sake of gorgeous presentation. By the way, I call dibs on that one, there!

This is the chef version paired with an equally to die for cherry tomato salad with a honey balsamic and basil oil dressing.

I loved this little appetizer so much, I was curious to see if I could adapt it and make it a somewhat more home cook friendly. I mean pie crust from scratch is sublime but labour intensive.

Hello! No sous chef in my kitchen. Believe me I have looked. What I have is folks who appear  for the serving and the eating only to disappear just as suddenly for the clean up.

Here is my much humbler version of Chef Peru's dish  which  I promise it's no less delicious.

Caramelized Onion and Sundried Tomato Quiche
adapted from Chef Jason Peru

 1 Frozen 9" pie crust

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion (julienned)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbs fresh thyme
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 cup canned corn kernels
1/2 tsp salt (or salt to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese (chunks)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 eggs

In a medium frying pan, on medium high heat saute onions until they cramelize. (About 5 mins) Towards the end of the caramelization process add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the thyme, sun dried tomatoes and corn. Remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella chunks and set aside.

In another bowl whisk together eggs and heavy cream. Season with salt and black pepper.

Remove dough from the fridge and roll out into a pie dish. Spread the corn, tomato onion filling across the bottom of the pie. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over it. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and put in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Banana Rum Chutney
Chef Jason Peru

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tbsp diced ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups diced bananas
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 tsp rum

Bring vinegar, sugar, juice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg to a boil.. Add ginger, bananas, raisins and rum simmer for 10 minutes at low heat. Add salt and cayenne pepper.

Slice quiche and serve with a dollop of Banana Rum Chutney on top. Serve with a salad.

Finally I must make mention of photographers Antony Scully, Jason Khan and Sarita Rampersard who all graciously consented to having their photos posted here. A world of thanks you guys! Without your gorgeous photos this post would have been a lot less interesting..